St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Brockton, Massachusetts, holds its final services

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Like six others before it in the last eight years, a grand Brockton church built by immigrants and shoe industrialists in the city’s heyday will close Sunday, its expenses too high and its buildings too difficult to maintain for its shrinking congregation.

The closing of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church follows those of several other once-prominent area churches, including the 156-year-old Elmwood New Church in East Bridgewater, which faces demolition because of its decrepit condition.

In Brockton, the recent closings began in 2002 with Our Lady of Ostrobrama; most recently, St. Casimir Church, a 110-year-old Lithuanian parish, shut down in 2008.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry

Posted November 26, 2010 at 6:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. martin5 wrote:

In 1993, a decision was made to leave TEC and now there is a St. Paul’s Parish (FIF) in Brockton, part of ACNA now.

Twenty-five years ago, the parish began welcoming a new wave of industrious immigrants from the West Indies and Africa, who brought with them an Anglican spirituality steeped in the Scripture and Christian family values. For that very reason, they blended harmoniously with the “old guard” of the quite traditional parish. Within a decade it blossomed into a fully interracial, multicultural, world-Anglican community of faith, as reflected in its Vestries.

At the same time, however, the Episcopal Church was engaged more and more in revising its understanding of faith. It became increasingly evident that a parting of ways was necessary and inevitable. In 1993, by unanimous decision, the Vestry and the people took action, disaffiliating themselves from the Diocese of Massachusetts, citing the biblical standard that their household of faith would “serve the Lord” (Joshua 25:15).

As its patron saint, the parish “suffered the loss of all things” materially for the sake of Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:8), its property and other assets. Being thereby homeless, regular worship and Christian education was in rented places for six years, conducted largely in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church on Warren Avenue. Now praise God, strengthened in the Spirit, the historic parish occupies New Parish Hall on Pleasant Street and enters a secure future in its service to the Lord.
It looks like the church never fully recovered.

November 26, 10:49 pm | [comment link]
2. Pb wrote:

One of the mission statements of my present TEC congregation is that healthy things grow.  How many agree?

November 26, 11:45 pm | [comment link]
3. Br. Michael wrote:

3, the article says that the church was “inclusive”.  Generally that is a code world for an Episcopal Church that is tolerant and clebrative of sexual sin and dismissive of Scripture.  Not many here will morn the closure of such a church particularly when this was touted by its proponents as a sure fire way to grow the church.

If this church was strong in the orthodox faith then its closure is sad.

November 27, 9:09 am | [comment link]
4. Creedal Episcopalian wrote:

As a paleo-con rather than a neo-con, perhaps I can help clear things up.

  The sad news is the abandonment of Orthodox Christianity by the TEC and the organization inhabiting the building of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

  The good news is that the church lives, appears to be thriving, and it’s people continue in Orthodox Christianity.

  The irony is that the manure poured upon the parish by TEC to try and grow it forced the creation of a competitor that killed it.

  The tragedy is that instead of selling the building to the people who loved it, and have a godly use for it, the official TEC position is that it is better to turn it into a nightclub or a mosque.

Given the state of TEC, it is indeed wonderful that the church itself has survived as an Anglican entity and still preaches the faith once delivered, even if a treasured historical building is lost through the actions of the deceiver.

November 27, 11:01 am | [comment link]
5. Pb wrote:

So healthy things do grow. It is sad the historic building had to be sacrificed.

November 27, 1:01 pm | [comment link]
6. deaconmark wrote:

A frequent theme is that lack of biblical orthodoxy results in decline in membership with the implication being that orthodoxy will lead to growth.  It’s a simple formula and a hopeful one.  But sadly not true.  And while it might seem that holding out such a hope would be harmless, in fact, it avoids a real examination of the issues.  It was interesting to see Archbishop Dolan speak about this very issue. While insisting that the American Bishops must continue to speak their truth, “But he said there was now a movement among them to confront internal problems like the “sobering study” showing that one-third of Americans born and baptized Catholic have left the church. ... [he added] recent studies finding that only half of young Catholics marry in the church, and that weekly Mass attendance has dropped to about 35 percent of Catholics from a peak of 78 percent in the 1960s.”  Surely this must be much the same in other Church bodies in the U.S. and Europe at least.  In fact, i suspect that immigrant figures (legal and otherwise) mask the severity of the problem.  Real hope, i should think, would lie not in trumpeting the fall of the Episcopal Church but in confronting the general decline in Christianity in the West irregardless of it’s biblical orthodoxy.  But what do i know, i’m just a deacon.

November 27, 1:44 pm | [comment link]
7. paradoxymoron wrote:

Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.  Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

November 27, 3:06 pm | [comment link]
8. Statmann wrote:

Again, one may ask: why thiss parish? In 2009, of the 176 churches in the diocese, there were 15 with ASA of 35 or less and 7 with Plate & Pledge of $15K or less. The parish had dealt well with the early years of 2002 through 2009, but then in 2007 started its final decline.  Statmann

November 27, 7:21 pm | [comment link]
9. lostdesert wrote:

Dio of Western Mass (is Brockton part of Eastern Mass) has slashed $200k from its Springfield based budget.  No help there.  My old parish is suffering also, in W Mass.  Lost over 5.3% in membership (cannot remember if that is ASA or baptized).  I am gone and I just spoke to another who left this month.  There is no joy in this.  Feels as if we are cutting off our limbs which have disease in order to save the whole.

November 27, 7:58 pm | [comment link]
10. Statmann wrote:

Brockton is in Diocese of Massachusetts. Western Massachusetts (WMA) lost 9 percent of Members and 23.9 percent of ASA during 2002 through 2009. In 2009, WMA had 66 churches of which 32 had ASA of 66 or less which was about par for TEC. But in 2009, WMA had 50 (77 percent) of its 66 churches with Plate & Pledge of less than $150K. Each “rich” church had about 3 “poor” churches to help support.  Statmann

November 27, 10:09 pm | [comment link]
11. Dan Ennis wrote:

You know, these “TEC Church Closing” headlines pop up on T19 regularly, and just as regularly there will be triumphalist reasserter posts about this being the fruit of heresy, etc.  I always think of two things:

1.  If the closing was indeed of a “inclusive” church, those who are usually drawn to the inclusiveness (homosexuals, the divorced, single parents, feminists, social-gospel types, garden-variety Socinianians, people who don’t believe anything at all but like the smells and bells) are not going across the street to the local ACNA franchise.  This is not a “win” for orthodoxy—many of those people may decide to stop trying church entirely.  If they left TEC and joined a nearby Anglican orthodox start-up en masse, the nearby Anglican orthodox church wouldn’t stay spotlessly Orthodox for very long! 

2.  When folks crunch numbers to show how Orthodoxy thrives and Progressiveness withers, I think of this line from William Golding:  “If we’re counting heads, the Buddhists are the boys for my money.”

November 28, 9:07 am | [comment link]
12. lostdesert wrote:

# 11 Your assertion that….:

If they left TEC and joined a nearby Anglican orthodox start-up en masse, the nearby Anglican orthodox church wouldn’t stay spotlessly Orthodox for very long! false as that supposes the membership runs the church and writes the message.  If TEC had a spine and had the Word, there would not have been the inroads made by the non-orthodox.  But, like illegal aliens allowed to come in to the building, then allowed, even encouraged to vote and draft policy, the liberals took over.  My old parish is now seeking a new priest with bio-diversity on his/her resume.

November 28, 11:22 am | [comment link]
13. Sam Keyes wrote:

The question is whether the continuing parish (which is a rather unusual creature—neither ACNA nor really AMiA—they joined Rwanda before the AM came along) will try to buy the building.  When I visited a few months ago it sounded like there would be some interest, but it’s hard to say.  The Diocese and bishop really went after these folks and they still feel the smart years later, so some of them will probably want nothing to do with even the building they remember.  (The TEC shadow parish has apparently managed to survive for the last 15 years or so by slowly draining the parish endowment.)

November 29, 10:36 am | [comment link]
14. Don C wrote:

For those unfamiliar with the decline of this once great parish, here’s a short (if sensationalized) analysis:

November 29, 2:45 pm | [comment link]
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